Kayaking is the new canoeing and a fun family activity everyone can do at their own pace. But kayaks are expensive, so before you run out to buy one, consider renting one instead. At many spots, you can also sign-up to take guided nature tours or rent stand up paddleboards. Sound like fun? Read on for a list of places where you can get the whole fam geared up and ready for some summertime paddling fun.

 photo: Kristina Moy

Seattle

Agua Verde Paddle Club and Café
Grab some oars and launch into Portage Bay from the dock of this amazing paddle club. Spend the day exploring city views and houseboats on Lake Union or floating on the lily padded waters of UW’s arboretum. After you’ve worked up an appetite, return your kayak and head upstairs to Agua Verde’s very own restaurant for some delicious Mexican fare.

Good to Know: The last rental takes place 1.5 hours before the close of the day. Check website for updates

Hours:
June 1-Aug. 31: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sat. 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-6 p.m
Sept. 1-30: Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m-7:00 p.m.; Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Oct. 1-31: Mon., Noon-6 p.m.; Fri., Noon-6 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Mar. 1-31: Mon., Noon-6 p.m.; Fri., Noon-6 p.m.,; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Apr. 1-31: Mon.,-Fri., Noon-7 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Cost: $18/hour for single kayak; $24/hour for double kayak; $23/hour for stand up paddleboard. Check here for special weekday discounts..

Agua Verde Paddle Club and Cafe
1307 N.E. Boat St.
Seattle, Wa 98105
206-545-8570
Online: aguaverde.com

photo: Matt Kowalczyk via Flickr

Moss Bay
This super-friendly kayak center can set you and your petite paddler up with everything you need for a fun-filled family adventure. Head out from the south end of Lake Union and go explore houseboat communities, Gas Works Park, the Ballard Locks or the UW. Take-away rentals, kids’ camps, large group packages and kayak lessons are also offered.

Hours:
June 1-Aug. 30: Mon.-Sat., 9 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., 9 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sept. 1-30: Mon.-Sun., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Oct. 1-31: Mon.-Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.
Nov.1-March 31: Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Apr. 1-30: Sun.-Mon., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Fri.-Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
May 1-31: Mon-Sun. 10 a.m.-7 p.m.

Cost: $16/hour for single kayak; $22/hour for double kayak; $18/hour stand up paddleboard

Moss Bay
1001 Fairview Ave. N., #1900
Seattle, Wa 98109
206-682-2031
Online: mossbay.co

photo: Nicole Grubbs

Ballard Kayak
Set adrift from Golden Gardens and spend a memorable day on the water that the Littles will be bragging about all summer long. Hourly and full-day rentals are available as well as tours through the Ballard Locks, Discovery Bay or the Puget Sound. Rentals are first come; first serve. Psst… call ahead and Ballard Kayak will set you up in a family kayak with a third jump-seat for mini-kayakers ages 5-8 to sit cozy and enjoy the ride in.

Tour Hours: Tue.-Sun., 9 a.m.-dusk
Rental Hours: Thurs.-Sun., 10 a.m.-dusk (up-to-date closures due to weather are listed here)

Cost: $20/hour for single kayak; $30/hour for double kayak; $20 stand up paddleboard (all-day rentals available too)

Shishole Bay Marina W-dock (Tours and rentals)
7001 Seaview Ave. N.W.
Seattle, Wa 98117
206-494-3353
Online: ballardkayak.com

Northwest Outdoor Center
With over 20 kayak models to choose from, this rental company is guaranteed to make it an awesome day on the water for everyone. Wander from their dock on Lake Union through famous houseboat communities or make your way to the arboretum. Kids will love watching sea planes and other watercraft maneuver the lake while taking in the spectacular view of Seattle’s skyline.

Good to Know: Northwest Outdoor Center kayaks are not permitted in the Ballard Locks. Reservations are recommended on beautiful evenings and weekends.

Hours:
Apr. 1-Sept. 18: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.- 8 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sept. 19-25: Mon.Fri., 10 a.m.-7:00 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Sept. 26-30: 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Oct. 1-31: Wed.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Nov. 1-Feb. 28: Wed-Fri., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Mar. 1-31: Wed.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Last rentals: 1.5 hours before closing.

Cost: $16/hour for single kayak; $25/hour for double kayak; $30/hour for triple kayak; $18 for stand up paddleboard

Northwest Outdoor Center
2100 Westlake Ave. N., Ste. 1
Seattle, Wa 98109
206-281-9694
Online: nwoc.com

photo: Alki Kayak Tours

Alki Kayak Tours
Everyone loves Alki Beach, so why not give your crew a new perspective of this summertime hot spot and spend the day on the water with Alki Kayak Tours? If you’re lucky and get there early enough you can score some kayaks from their shop at the Seacrest Boathouse next to the Water Taxi dock. If you would prefer making a reservation, schedule a tour online and they’ll be sure everyone gets a kayak and an amazing adventure around the waters of Elliot Bay. Rentals are only offered on a first come, first serve basis. Last rentals of the day are 1.5 hours prior to sunset.

Hours: Mon.-Sun., 10 a.m.- two hours prior to sunset

Cost: $20/hour for single kayak; $30/hour for double kayak; $40/hour for triple kayak

Alki Kayak Tours
1660 Harbor Ave. S.W.
Seattle, Wa 98126
206-953-0237
Online: kayakalki.com

Eastside

Cascade PaddleSports
Cascade PaddleSports now offers two locations. The Bellevue location features views of the city, Mercer Island and Mount Rainier and riders often see eagles, herons, turtles and jays as well as iris, waterlilies and berries. The second location at Blue Heron Landing in Bothell is equally nice. Both closed deck and sit-on-top kayaks are available depending on how wet you want to get. Rentals are first come first serve, so get there early.

Hours:
May 1-June 18: Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
June 19- Sept. 4: Mon.-Sun, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sept. 5-31: Sat.-Sun., 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Cost: starting at $15/hour for single kayak; $18/hour for double kayak; $19.50/hour for stand up paddleboard. Prices for each subsequent hour are half the first hour rate.

Cascade PaddleSports at Enatai Boathouse
3519 108th Ave. S.E.
Bellevue, Wa 98004
425-452-5363

Cascade PaddleSports at Blue Heron Landing
9025 Bothell Way N.E.,
Bothell, Wa 98011
425-785-7419

Online: canoe-kayak.com

photo: Northwest Paddle Surfers via Yelp

Northwest Paddle Surfers
Take your crew on a sit-on-top kayak adventure around Juanita Bay with Northwest Paddle Surfers. Be sure to pack a picnic and everyone’s swim gear because after drifting on the waters of Lake Washington the kids will want to make it a day at the beach. You’ll want to reserve your rental online (at least a day in advance) as their fleet does go quickly, then pick up your kayak at the S.U.P. shack on the west side of the beach.

Hours: Mon.-Sun., 10 a.m.-8 p.m.

Cost: $25/hour for single kayak; $40/hour for double kayak

Juanita Beach
9703 N.E. Juanita Dr.
Kirkland, Wa 98034
425-366-7699

Marina Park
25 Lake Shore Plz.
Kirkland, WA 98033
425-366-7699

Online: northwestpaddlesurfers.co

Issaquah Paddle Sports
Head out for a family fun day at Lake Sammamish State Park! Look for the rental kiosk at Tibbetts Beach where you will be provided with all you need to get those paddlers on the water for some gorgeous lake views. Rentals are first come, first serve, so be sure to arrive early. Rentals are contingent on weather, so call ahead if showers are in the forecast.

Good to know: A Discover Pass ($10/day or $30/year) is required to drive into Lake Sammamish State Park and can be purchased online or at the entrance kiosk.

Hours: Mon.-Sun., 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Cost: $18 single kayak; $23 double kayak; $18 single stand up paddleboard; $23 double stand up paddleboard

Issaquah Paddle Sports
Lake Sammamish State Park
2000 N.W. Sammamish Rd.
Issaquah, Wa 98027
425-891-5039
Online: issaquahpaddlesports.com

Woodmark Waterfront Adventures
Psst…here’s a secret. This water sport adventure shop isn’t just for Woodmark Hotel guests. Call ahead and the staff will set you up with a one- or two-person kayak and get you ready to launch from beautiful Carillon Point. Once on the water, you’ll want to paddle south on Lake Washington to Yarrow Bay where kids will love exploring the 73 acres of lush wetlands and its fascinating wildlife inhabitants.

Good to Know: Weather may affect operating hours. We recommend you call in advance to ensure availability.

Hours: Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-9 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 9 a.m.-9 p.m.

Cost: $19/hour for single kayak; $24/hour for double kayak; $19 for stand up paddleboard; $49 for 4-person mega paddleboard

Woodmark Waterfront Adventures
1200 Carillon Point
Kirkland, Wa 98033
425-216-2257
Online: waterfrontadventures.com

WhatsSup Stand-Up Paddle & Surf
Offering two locations in Bothell and Kenmore, WhatsSup Stand-Up Paddle and Kayak offers a variety of services to meet your water sport needs. Their kayaks are great for two adults and a child and they offer a variety of kayaks—sit-on-tops are the most popular with families since they’re easy to get in and out of. WhatsSup will supply the paddles, PFD’s for all rentals, and, of course, instruction.

Hours: Mon.-Sun., 11 a.m.-7 p.m. (last rental at 6 p.m.)

Cost: $15/hour single kayak; $20/hour double kayak; $18/hour stand up paddleboard

The Park at Bothell Landing
9919 N.E. 180th St,
Bothell, Wa 98011

Tracy Owen Station at Log Boom Park
17415 61st Ave. N.E.
Kenmore, Wa 98028
425-417-8637

Online: whatssup.net

South Sound

The Point Defiance Marina Complex
Nestled on the shore of Point Defiance Park, Owen Beach offers an excellent spot to rent kayaks and explore the south Puget Sound. Take in the sights of Vashon Island, Mount Rainier, Gig Harbor, traveling ferry boats and more. Rentals are first come, first serve, so plan on getting there early.

Hours: Mon.-Sun., Noon–6 p.m. (weather permitting)

Cost: $19/hour for single kayak; $26/hour for double kayak; $25 stand up paddleboard

The Point Defiance Marina Complex
5912 N. Waterfront Dr.
Tacoma, Wa 98407
253-591-5325
Online: metroparkstacoma.org

photo: Foss Harbor Marina via Yelp

Foss Harbor Marina
Paddle out from the docks of this marina into the Foss Waterway where you will enjoy a panoramic view of Tacoma’s skyline with Mount Rainier as the backdrop. Kids will take pride in helping mom and dad paddle their kayak around as you make your way to Commencement Bay, Ruston Way or Point Defiance Park. A minimum two-hour reservation is required and can be made ahead of time online.

Hours: Mon.-Sat, 8 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Cost: $25/two hours single kayak; $35/two hours of double kayak; $30/two hours stand up paddleboard

Foss Harbor Marina
821 Dock St.
Tacoma, Wa 98402
253-272-4404
Online: fossharbormarina.com


photo: Stephanie F. via Yelp

San Juan Islands

Sea Quest Kayak Tours
Set out on the tranquil waters of the San Juans for a full or multi-day wildlife adventure with this super knowledgeable and well-trained kayak company. You will spend the day tracking down orcas, dolphins, seals and many other fascinating marine animals along the west side of San Juan Island. Kids ages 5 and older are welcome and no experience is necessary.

Hours: 1-5 day rentals scheduled daily

Cost: One day guided tours start at $89/person

Sea Quest Kayak Tours
2 Spring St.
Friday Harbor, Wa
360-378-5767
Online: sea-quest-kayak.com

Anacortes Kayak Tours
If you’ve been dreaming about checking out a San Juan kayak experience but aren’t sure your brood is fully committed, Anacortes Kayak Tours is your place. Their mini, 1 1/2 hour, tour travels the waters of Deception Pass and is perfect for beginners or those who want to avoid ferry travel. Longer trips are available with tours starting from Anacortes or Friday Harbor.

Hours: Varies and is based on scheduled tour time

Cost: Starts at $39/Adults; $35/Kids under 12

Anacortes Kayak Tours
2201 Skyline Way, Ste. 203
Anacortes, Wa 98221
800-992-1801
Online: anacorteskayaktours.com

photo: Steve D. via Yelp

Crystal Seas Kayaking
If your waterbug is ready to hop on a ferry and venture on an unforgettable kayak experience, look no further than Crystal Sea Kayaking to make it happen. They offer special family tours of the west side of San Juan Island to those of us lucky enough to have 5-9-year-olds in tow. Bring back an ocean full of memories of the amazing views and incredible wildlife seen on a half, full or multi-day trip. They offer a free shuttle service from the Anacortes ferry to their private kayak dock in Friday Harbor, so you can even leave your car and just walk on.

Hours: Varies and is based on scheduled tour time

Cost: Tours start at $99/person

Crystal Seas Kayaking
40 Spring St.
Friday Harbor, Wa 98250
360-378-4223
Online: crystalseas.com

Know Before You Go

1. Do check the weather and water conditions before heading out for the day

2. Get set to get wet! It is best to wear clothing that can dry quickly, such as athletic gear or swim wear and skip the cotton. Temperatures on the water tend to be cooler, so dress warm and in layers

3 Do bring water, snacks, sunblock, sunglasses, hats, towels, extra clothes and leave all your valuables and the kitchen sink at home. Pack anything you want to keep dry in Ziplock or dry bags.

4. More often than not life jackets will be provided, but if you’ve got minis weighing under 30 pounds in your crew call ahead to check availability or bring your own P.F.D.

Have you rented from one of these kayak companies before? Tell us about your experience in the comments below.

— Jeffrey Totey & Rachael Brandon